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8/25/2010
01:14 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Has Android Peaked?

Android has been the fastest growing smartphone platform over the past year, going from the original T-Mobile G-1 in the fall of 2008 to a plethora of devices on all of the major networks. One reporter though thinks the meteoric rise of Android is nearing an end and it faces five major opponents in the future.

Android has been the fastest growing smartphone platform over the past year, going from the original T-Mobile G-1 in the fall of 2008 to a plethora of devices on all of the major networks. One reporter though thinks the meteoric rise of Android is nearing an end and it faces five major opponents in the future.Scott Moritz at The Street.com has given five reasons why "the Google Android heyday is ending."

  1. Hewlett-Packard's WebOS by Palm - WebOS 2 will be shipping this fall on a rumored Pre 2 device. I contend though that HP is more interested in WebOS for non-smartphone applications like tablets. Smartphones are still in the picture, but not front and center. The WebOS application base really hasn't taken off either, which has hurt general interest in the platform. The iPhone and Android both publish thousands of apps in their stores each month, way ahead of anything WebOS has generated in over a year on the market.
  2. Nokia's Meego - Nokia has consistently shown in recent years it doesn't get it. Starting over with an entirely new platform will be tough, especially when the platform isn't your own to begin with. Meego is a joint effort between Intel and Nokia.
  3. Windows Phone 7 by Microsoft - Microsoft lost the smartphone game in 2007 when the iPhone came out and showed the world how a smartphone was supposed to be. Microsoft was forced to regroup and nearly start from scratch as well. There is a lot of hype surrounding the new platform, but even if it lives up to its press, it is doubtful it will topple any of the existing players. The best it, or any new platform, can hope for in the near term is to become a recognized player in the market, not an afterthought.
  4. Blackberry 6.0 by RIM - Uhm... no.
  5. An iPhone release on Verizon - this has some merit. I think that Verizon will have a hard time keeping up with orders and activations if it releases the iPhone on its network, but in truth, many of those will be AT&T customers that will willingly flee their current network. The reality is though, Android isn't a me too product, it is a worthy platform on its own so I don't see a material number of Android users dropping their device in favor of an iPhone.

No doubt competition will be fierce. Android's biggest problem may be itself though. Google still hasn't come to terms with platform fragmentation. You can still go out today and buy a device with Android 1.6, 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2. Given the open source nature of Android and for manufacturers to put their own custom spin on the platform, it will never consolidate into a uniform platform like iOS, WebOS or Windows Phone 7 will be, but it has to get better than it is today.

And no, Android cannot keep up its torrid pace - nothing can grow like that forever. There is still a lot of room though for Android to grow and I don't think any one platform, or combination of platforms, will end the boom times Android is experiencing for a few years at least.

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